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Curfew in R'sthan town after farmers-cops clash

Army was also called in after farmers fought pitched battles with the police that left over 100 people injured.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 11:52 IST

Curfew was imposed on Tuesday in Ghadsana town in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar district where the Army was called in after farmers fought pitched battles with police that left over 100 people injured.

"We have imposed curfew in Ghadsana and Ravala towns from 6.00 am. The Army was called in Ghadsana on Monday night to control the situation", Navdeep Singh, inspector general of police (law and order), told.

Hundreds of farmers in the district have been protesting for the last six days demanding more water for irrigation. The agitation turned violent on Monday after farmers began pelting police officials with stones.

"We had to resort to a baton charge to control the stone-pelting mob. We also used water cannons, tear gas shells and fired rubber bullets, but nothing stopped these farmers from throwing stones. Finally the Army was called in and curfew has been imposed," said Singh.

Apart from more water for irrigation, the farmers are also demanding the release of six of their leaders arrested on October 9.

The Indira Gandhi canal in the district has two phases, and farmers in phase-I want 58 per cent of the canal's water.

"It is difficult for us to curtail the water share allocated for the phase-II farmers," said a district administration official.

Said Ravindra Singh, a farmer: "The state government had assured us that it would provide farmers in phase-I with 58 per cent of water. But it is not fulfilling its promise. We will continue our protest till our demand is met."

A meeting between the farmers and state government officials was held on Friday but no breakthrough was possible.

Two years ago, clashes between farmers and the police in the district had led to police firing which left eight farmers dead.

The opposition Congress party in the state has asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to institute a judicial probe into the incident.

"The government should probe into the baton charge incident and offer suitable compensation to those injured," said BD Kalla, state president of the Congress.

"We have also constituted a four-member committee to look into the Ghadsana incident that will submit its report to the state Congress soon," he added.

First Published: Oct 17, 2006 11:52 IST